Origins in Modern ‘Pop’ and Internet Sub-Culture

The concept of ‘wetness’ in design holds a rich array of metaphor that can be unearthed through the forms ability to penetrate our sensory perceptions via visual or tactile cues. These cues connect us with a pure natural form even if we are nowhere near it. Designers such as Shuhei Hasado and Kenya Hara retain a strong consciousness of the existence of water being the truest form of sensory perception from nature. Water is a material that resonates with all human beings; it is a core part of our existence and has been since the beginning of time. In our modern urban cities we are often very far removed from this substance, obliviously unaware of its importance in many of our norms and standards of living. Kimie Tada, editor of ‘confort’ magazine writes on Hasado’s website, ‘To improve the quality of our lives we need to return to at least some our origins’. It is interesting to observe the rise of allusions to water within Modern ‘Pop’ and Internet Sub-Culture.

A body of water itself is often seen as a calming and cleansing entity, with an ability to fulfil our senses and provoke emotions recalled from memory. Computers and smart phones often have a flowing blue/green background that resembles the ocean or some other body of water, perhaps trying to bring us back to the purest form of nature as we interact with something so far removed from it. Some smartphones will even have a reactive liquid surface that ripples and moves as you swipe your fingers over it. This excites our sensory perception, although we do not feel the wetness physically, we understand it and we are affected by it in some way whether consciously or unconsciously. Two polar opposites combine, the sleek sterile world of modern technology with the beginning of all life, water.

In 2011 an Internet subculture called Seapunk emerged, combining 3D mathematical images with oceanic themes. Bright, glistening compositions of water create a backdrop for mixed up imagery that is seen to some as tasteful in is tackiness. It is hard to understand why Seapunk came about, or what the relevance of the water themes surrounding it are. We could say that it is simply a juxtaposition of technology and natures purest form, with the imagery and music arising from the culture supposedly reconnecting us with nature. However the colours and style of the water is exaggerated to an over the top point, almost seeming unnatural. Whatever the reason for this splicing of wetness and modern Internet culture is, it is interesting to observe waters presence. Using technology such as smartphones and computers to tap into our sensory perception is important, as the further we drift from nature the more we need to be reminded of it.

In 2015 we are able to observe a trend of waveforms in graphic design as well as pattern design for fashion. ‘House of Cards’ the label released a capsule collection earlier this year that is themed around the Internet and the growth of its power. Many of the clothes within the collection are cool coloured, with gradients that represent water. Her patterns also combine a wave shape with Internet imagery such as hash tags and the Wi-Fi symbol. Once again we see a splicing of technological subject matter with water and its haptic perception. This is most likely the product of the designer’s own observation of water as a theme in Internet culture. This trend will only continue to grow, as designers are inspired by this, or by one another.AW15-017-1_largeAW15-027-1_largeErudite+Guide-+Southern+Tasmania Referring to Kenya Hara’s design philosophy around ‘Emptiness’ can provide some sort of explanation for the importance and prominence of water in design. Emptiness has no shape, and although it does not carry a message itself, it does so in the viewers mind and imagination. Hara and similar designers are able to design using ‘emptiness’ by beginning with the origins of nature and of sensory perception. By investigating how technologies trigger our perception, they are able to awake something in the viewer in a subtle way. Usually design work is still influenced by the market, with pop culture often having a strong influence on content and imagery. Designers should activate delicate human sensory perceptions in an effort to transport us back to our origins. Using the most basic natural elements to relay a lasting message to an audience can lead to a pursuit of spirituality. As stated by Uniqlo’s art director ‘Kashiwa Sato’, “The answer is not in my mind, but always in theirs”. 1-1


I’ll charge you $100 for reading this post

There’s a 50-dollar drink called “heartbreak” on the menu.

Intrigued, ordered then paid. What comes to you is a bottle of water.




100% Cotton
The oyster’s our world








VALUE – such an interesting thing to talk about.

“The oyster’s our world” is a wooden stepladder with shell, coral, pearls and diamonds; “Waltzer” is a wooden broom inlaid with opals, turquoise, garnets and onyx; “Jimmy” is a laundry bag coloured in with pencil and biro; “100% Cotton” is an overall with embroidered splatters. They were created by a British artist Susan Collis, whose works focus on issues of labour, value and workmanship. With works exhibited internationally at institutions such as the V&A and the New Orleans Museum of Art, Collis successfully combined conceptual art’s minimalist aesthetics with tenuous labour and devotion to create works of art abounding in detail, precision, time and love. These objects are placed so casually that unsuspecting viewers could be forgiven for assuming that they had mistakenly wandered into a work-in-progress gallery. Only closer scrutiny could reveal this hidden preciousness, not only because of its meticulously crafted camouflage, but also its unlovely context of these seemingly cheap objects. When asked what made her first start using objects like dust sheets, overalls and stepladders in an interview, Collis said: “I think to start off with because I wanted to make these things which were to be invisible but very worked, I was just looking around the college for things that you would walk past and things you wouldn’t give a second glace to.” Ordinary objects are not considered to be expensive; in other words, value is not usually associated with the normal, yet that is where Collins’ message lives in. She made the overall and laundry bag more valuable by paying tribute to the intense labour and sophisticated craftsmanship in a way that is subtle and invisible to the casual eyes. The concealed value appears when time has passed rather than the moment of using it. The stepladder and broom became mundanely pricier with the added precious stones. Objects that are previously ignored or underestimated are now celebrated with respect to its own value in serving as our everyday assistant and our finite time holder, no matter whose, the craftsmen’s or the visitors’.

Although the decisions behind the positioning give the work its conceptual thrust, the idea of having the objects in a gallery as a settled art exhibition makes its purpose too obvious or intentional. The way they appear could be chewed on because there is a hidden layer of satire. To play a little twist, these objects could be potentially put back to where they are found. It will be interesting to see how many people would give a second glance to a gem-painted stepladder near a construction site. On a fluid street, will a biro-coloured bag be debunked or stay still? In a flow of people, will someone stop beside a pearl-inlaid broom and chuckle to himself that he is about to make a fortune? How much stupidity and snobbishness out there?

Now if I ask you, between an exquisitely embroidered and a diamond-inlaid overall, which one do you think costs more? If they are equivalent in price, which one do you think is more valuable then? “One thing that surprised me is that a lot of the gemstones are cheaper than I expected them to be.” said Collis in a conversation with Mackay Butcher and Cylena Simonds. “People are always asking how much they cost and I think they imagine that it would be several thousands but it isn’t. I suppose that’s because I am often using quite small stones and I’m not going for the best quality, but they still sound exotic.” What she is saying about value is thought-provoking in terms of the relationship between the materials she used and the objects that are made. In a way, it is questioning our values – how we view the world. Is a normal stepladder really worthless? Does inlaying gemstones make the object more valuable in terms of the fact that it’s still a tool? Does this exclusive stepladder make the chore pleasing? Is a bottle of water worth 50 dollars? Or is the feeling of heartbreak something that you can buy with money?

Well, we all have different answers.

There is a store that sells empty bottles in Beijing. It is located in a basement and has only goods shelves and a few chairs.The bottles are labeled with “patience”, “courage for change”, “away from the keyboard”, “a blue sky in Beijing” and etc. And the price ranges from ¥10 to ¥35. It went so popular that they sold more than 200 bottles in the first month. They call these bottles “The Container of Heart”.1265253519_528740001265253496_068129001265253541_61001500 “The bottle is a spiritual supply. For individuals, it is a ceremony for something that has been realized to be changed.” said Mo, one of the two storeowners.  No matter how many different views we hold for the discussion of value, we all agree that the spirit has always been something priceless – something that cannot be evaluated or measured. But here, it is quantified and even being traded. Thus, it is perfectly understandable that some people have called them frauds. Despite the criticism or the misunderstanding, ¥10 – 35 is a good price range that is either negligible or unaffordable. The fact that you can buy something priceless with certain amount of money makes you feel a sense of rarity, which heightens the preciousness of the invaluable. The essence of trade-off that lies in the action of giving-out and taking-in highlights the feeling of obtaining, although it is something you can make on your own. These bottles are not only labeled with the price but also weight and volume. Having wishes in a limited amount is clever. A bottle of 50g “sense of security” is surely not enough for a girl who is in a bad relationship. But you cannot really buy a hundred bottles of safety, unless you know exactly how much you need. Therefore, what it suggests is a sense of self-reliance. It requires you to be self-sufficient and gain more on your own.

In this case, money is neither an asset in the form of coins and banknotes or a system to evaluate the spirit. It is an object, in which it functions as a physical medium, just as a clock or a USB. A clock or a watch is a device for indicating time while a USB has its limited capacity for carrying digital value. Time could be measured but its value cannot. Having a room filled with clocks doesn’t mean you have more time, but if it makes you anxious, then in a sense it does. The fact that these bottles have only maximum ¥25 difference in price makes the accountability of money as an assessment ignored. Money is, indeed, an artistic creation full of hope.

What is additionally worth talking about is the setting of the store. There is no signal but only a few chairs and clean, empty bottles on the shelf. The emptiness of the space and the bottle creates a free condition for one’s self-reflection, because “emptiness itself, is the possibility of being filled”, as Kenya Hara interpreted. Mo said there was once a professor who stood in his store for 3 hours and declined his hospitality when he said to him “please have a seat.” The professor then said that it would disturb the peace. What Mo and his partner attempt to sell is a chance to reflect, by materializing one’s values. It is a great concept and needs integrated branding for its potential values to advance as a brand.

Let’s look at a more thorough design practice in the context of value. It is a story about newspaper. The loss of young readership from newspapers in Japan has become serious. So in order to get young people rediscover the value of newspapers, designer Yoshinaka Ono created a completely new medium – The News Bottle. 201307_MW_01_Poster_B0_bottle_3_1000It is an innovation that continuously increases the contact points between young people and The Mainich Newspaper, and indeed a revolution in the entire press industry. The packaging of the mineral water that is bought by young Japanese everyday is changed into a newspaper, and over one month sold 31 varieties. Through using AR technology incorporated into the bottle packaging, it is possible to access the latest news, which actually created buzz for the online articles. By introducing advertising on the bottle, it results in a significant price reduction of the water and newspapers.

Newspaper is now seen as a less valuable thing because technologies have made access to information free and convenient. You can get informed anywhere at any time even if you don’t have printed media or digital devices at hand. We don’t need a newspaper that takes up extra space in our already crowded material world to catch us up. Furthermore, there’s an expectation from people that the widely spread information should be free because we now have a shared world called Internet. So why would you pay extra 2 dollars for a not beautifully produced piece and to be of concern in indirectly killing more trees? What the News Bottle did was not just activating communication between young digital natives and traditional print media; it re-specified the purpose of buying a product. Another example that not only did that but also re-conceptualized the user involvement is the Donation Bottle, by the same designer for the same client. 201409_MN_DonationBottle_Web-03_1000With its objective to solve global issues and change newspaper into a media that makes people act, it uses newspaper article that reports world issues as the packaging. They have identified, as Shove did in her research, “the need for a better understanding of the collective transformation of taken-for-granted conventions of normal practice.” It has built a mutual construction of problems and solutions at the meso and macro level, which helped them to reach a larger group of audience, like people who don’t read newspapers or might not care about global issues but would actually buy water everyday. No matter what the purpose of buying this product is, whether to drink, read or donate, the value of the bottle and the 2-dollar coin is increased. More importantly, the value of individuals has been magnified. It transfers an ordinary action into a meaningful impact. Furthermore, The Mainich Newspaper’s attempt to solve the global issues demonstrates to us why it as a press industry should exist. From the creation of The News Bottle and Donation Bottle, we now know the values behind its brand and the significance of having such companies to play a part in the world.

If you have $100 at hand, would you buy a piece of newspaper printed on a water bottle? Or would you buy a ¥30 empty bottle labeled “courage” or maybe a $50 bottle of water called “heartbreak”? How about spending it all on this post? Well, as I said up front, It’s $100. But for people who get this far, thanks for your invaluable time reading this. I’ll get you 20% off!

But sorry, Cash Only.


As most of us have experienced, the grocery store is a wildly vivid whirl wind of colours and images. Not unlike the chaos in the jungle of the natural world, the cans, bottles and packaging are all screaming out, talking over each other for our attention. But let’s for a moment, close our eyes.
Now, what drives your choices? Continue reading

The song of silence

Poetic design, in addition to the design inspiration of puns, product aesthetic and practical combination of expression methods, there are full of philosophical and spiritual source. The subtle influence of using some natural elements of the audience, such as wind blowing across the forest, can let a person naturally associated with the comfortable, quiet, green and fresh air; Then the golden wheat fields, for example, can let a person associate to harvest, abundance and joy; The child’s smile can make people associated with innocence, purity, and goodness. These associations are of race and region, as long as is the human will have such commonality. This is the general public aesthetics.

In my review of the objects content has two designers took a similar design style; they are Tom Gerhardt and Kauro Mende. Stone Mouse which creation by Tom Gerhardt. Tom Gerhardt is particularly obvious was a versatile artist; he is not only a designer, but also a computer developer. As the designer of the hardware and software, he helped many prestigious museum and retail spaces to create interactive system installation. As an artist, Tom Gerhardt tried to reconcile the modern people in the real world and the gap between the digital worlds. To make people feel like playing in the mud easily control the computer. Most recently, Tom and his design partner Dan Provost created the GLIF: one of the world’s first crowd-funded commercial products and subsequently founded Studio Neat, a design practice dedicated to making things simple and making simple things.

In the author’s point of view, Stone, the Mouse will rhythm and rhyme solidification on the hard pebbles. Regular when using the mouse or messy rap as long a short poem, slowly become an essay, or a picture, or a song. But the appearance of the mouse is a rock cold silence, instead, let a person feel solid, reliable, simple and serious. Tom Gerhardt would own the Mouse design became a rock, and named Stone Mouse. This work is mainly composed of a swap sensor base and a piece of ordinary pebbles, any pebbles on the base of the mouse can form a stone. Stone Mouse is Tom Gerhardt’s famous design. Any a stone on the converter can form a fully functional standard mouse. This design challenges the current popular concept of sterile and mass production of the same general digital products, to replace the ubiquitous mouse appearance.


Tom Gerhardt had some other amazing works, such as Mud Tub, Firelight, Morgen and Tresling. Some of these works are Tom design of articles for daily use as artists; some are quite interesting interaction experiment. Among them, the typical interaction experiment is Mud Tub and Tresling, their core idea is to let a person through the study of the change of real world exist to operate the computer. A person in Mud Tub is by playing in wet Mud to control computer, Tresling is cooperated with computer technology to make people playing tetris through the video. These experiments is full of Children’s interest, let people unknowingly extends body movements to the computer and other interface. Morgen is Tom designed one can interact with social software connected device, convenient for people to leave the network after can still like online information with family and friends.


                                                                 Morgen created by Tom Gerhardt


                                                                 Tresling created by Tom Gerhardt


                                                                   Morgen created by Tom Gerhardt

Firelight is a lighting system, Tom, designed the system with the help of switches “fireplace” often makes people think of the warm fire in the home, with the aid of computer, Tom make stable electronic lights flicker under the control of the match performance out the candle and the variation of light and shade in the wood burning.


                                                                 Firelight created by Tom Gerhardt
Tom’s Stone Mouse is similar with Kauro Mende’s design, Anniversary of Matches. In terms of the author’s point of view, the design of ordinary matches made strange feeling. Originally as a match stick has been replaced by a small branch, seemingly vibrant woods, it is going to be burned, this sense of life and death of contradiction on this design to extrapolate. Simple matchstick branches and stones of the mouse, the appearance of simple leaves people endless imagination, always feel that they have any special meaning hidden under the silent and shabby appearance, let a person always not forget for a moment.


                                                       Anniversary Matches created by Kauro Mende

Anniversary Matches is Kauro Mende for 2000: the daily products exhibition design of the 21st century. He is relying on the concept of the dry branches and a match between the collocations to express “dust to dusts, dirt to dirts. Design requirements for the audience to think, the relationship between human and fire in an open space for thinking across tens of thousands of years, our ancestors in the primitive times of the intimate contact with fire, by wisdom, he mastered the fire. Look at this design, the shape of the branches, although messy but still beautiful. Kauro Mende design the purpose of this work is to awaken the existence of the personal feeling. Nature, fire and human relationship with the development of history stretches all the way up to today.


Fridman, E. 2012, RE-DESIGN as a Form of Understanding & Creativity, viewed 19 May 2015, <;

Haptic, H. 2011, Design proposal, viewed by 18 may 2015, <;

RESCUECOM, 2011, Stone Mouse, Bamboo Mouse: Now Your Computer Area Can Look Primitive, viewed 18 May 2015, <;

Xiang. H & Lok. C, 2014, Designing design: re-design, UK, viewed by 19 may 2015 , <;

Using Childhood Memories

Have we lost touch with our emotions? Our most powerful emotions are usually influenced by deeply childhood experiences and memories.

David Saldoff of ‘One of Studios’ recalled his fun childhood experience when as a kid, picking fresh fruit from his parent’s apple tree and created a special apple holder called “Newton”. The designer became a founder of ‘One of Studios’ after completing a degree in both Graphic design at American University and Industrial design at University of Cincinnati. According to David, his ultimate goal is “to deliver small run or limited edition design pieces to the public” and he has developed a number of designs. “Newton” is one of his designs that reflect his philosophy, humour or metaphor .


The design is a simple metal bracket that screws directly into the wall and dangles a fresh apple to be plucked when the moment is right. “Newton” recreates the nostalgic apple-picking experience. So, the experience tickles our sense of emotion and at the same time the design is fulfilling its functional criteria as an apple storing mechanism.

Swing table, designed by ‘Duffy London’ a UK Furniture design company will also bring our childhood’s playground into the boardroom and dining room. The creative design was inspired by a George Bernard Shaw quote: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing,” This design certainly brings out the kid in all of us. With the Swing table, corporate meetings or dinners will become a fun and inspiring experience and boring meetings and meal times will be ended.


Duffy London’s another furniture design, Flying Carpet Coffee Table was inspired by Alddin’s story and his magic carpet. With the Flying Carpet Coffee Table printed with a pixelated Persian rug design in a variety of colours, we may be able to imagine that the table will transport us to a magical place . The designer explains: “The illusion is created by mounting the steel rug on a hidden 5cm-wide cantilever at the centre of the table. A shadow base makes it appear as though it is floating. It also has a wave-like surface to add to the illusion of a magic carpet moving in its stationary position.



Dane Saunders a Vancouver-based furniture designer also created a simple and poetic coffee table “The Beneath the Surface”. The design was inspired by the designer’s childhood. Before Dane attended the University of Alberta to study industrial design, he grew up in a farm family near. Edmonton. The abstracted shapes of seed pods cut through the wooden uprights of the table. The design allows us “to appreciate both the hard maple shell and the soft inner mahogany” and the organic shape attempts “to both emphasize the beauty of the raw material, and be a symbol of growth”.


Designs like Saldoff’s Newton, Duffy’s Swing table and Flying carpet coffee table and Saunders’ Beneath the Surface are not only functional but also will take us to our childhood’s imagination while many of us lose touch with our emotions as we grow up.